How Kuwait is coming together as one

By Maryanne Maguire

It doesn’t matter whether you were in Kuwait on June 26 or not. Anyone who calls Kuwait home has been rocked to the core by the suicide attack on Imam al-Sadeq Mosque.

 

But contrary to what was intended, the horror of the attack is bringing out the best in people and uniting them.  Kuwait has been coming together as one. The solidarity exhibited between Sunnis and Shia, ruling family and residents, businesses, Kuwaitis and expats and simply ordinary folk from all walks of life has been the best indicator yet of the feelings generated by the attack in a nation so far spared by the sectarian violence often seen in other Arab states.

In the days following the attack, in a huge outpouring of collective grief, thousands joined to demonstrate and reject sectarianism. Joint prayers, car bumper stickers, graffitis, editorials… These were only a few of the methods used.

It is in the social media accounts that a wave of creativity was unleashed and continues to grow in one of the fastest growing social media movements witnessed in Kuwait.

Some of the art and design work that has emerged is proving that the attack is having the exact opposite effect of what was intended.

An explosion of creativity under the banner #OneKuwait has flooded Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. Artists, graphic designers, ordinary folk have been posting messages by using art as a powerful statement.

 

PHOTOS OF ONEKUWAIT

Another hashtag, translating as “one rank”, has been used more than twelve thousand times. The idea? All Kuwaitis should unify like an army to defeat terrorism.

 

The following message was posted as part of a video by Kuwait’s Ministry of State four Youth Affairs and voiced by Abdullah Mubarak Alhajeri: “No matter how much they try to separate us, no matter how much they try to break our unity. No matter how many times they want to bring chaos between us. We will hold on more and more. And we will stay united, as one”.

Gulf Bank also launched a video on YouTube just days after the attack showing a touching conversation between a father and son. The father responds to his son’s question about whether he is Sunni or Shia as follows: “Since a long time ago, from the days we’ve lived in mud houses, we’re all brothers. There’s love between us. It’s not just the days that gather us, it’s the years. If someone asks you one day if you are Sunni or Shia, lock your eyes with his and tell him: I’m Kuwaiti. And all of God’s houses are my houses. This is my will to you.”

Many messages were also posted in solidarity with the families of the victims in France and Tunisia. Many of them pointed out what Islam is about and encouraged people to make statements to reject the violence used in such attacks.

 

In the heart of Ramadan, and according to social media users, the messages had an even more compelling meaning. As one user put it: “the attack may have shattered lives and buildings. But Kuwait is showing that out of the horror, a new and even more powerful movement has been born”. (486 words)

 

MARYANN MAGUIRE – Maryann Maguire is a news reporter and writer. Since 1997, the former Reuters and BBC journalist has worked in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Sudan and Libya covering news and current affairs for international media outlets before joining the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a humanitarian worker. She now lives in Kuwait with her young family.

 

 

Photo credits: Kuwaiti saluting flag: Aziz Al-Duwisan

 

 

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